The last match day of the World Cup qualifying groups in Europe and the Americas has mostly battle for the final second-place spots in UEFA or the last one or two automatic slots across the Atlantic. England hosting Poland, hoping to finish ahead of Ukraine, seems like the biggest focal point of the evening, while in Costa Rica, Mexico will try and avoid a loss in order to at least clinch a playoff spot.
There’s also the South American qualifiers taking place, with Uruguay desperate to beat Argentina and hoping for either Chile or Ecuador to lose, but the problem is that they’re playing each other, and a draw in that match is the most likely of results. There’s also the fiery encounter between Egypt and Ghana in the first leg of their playoff encounter, with plenty of bad blood between the sides after Ghana tried to move the match to a different venue.
Group A – Everything is set in stone in this group. Belgium, who finish first, will play Wales; Croatia, who are going to finish second, are playing Scotland away; while Serbia and Macedonia finish the trio of matches that have no meaning.
Group B – The battle for second place, as Italy have already clinched their spot in the World Cup. Bulgaria, who are currently in second place with 13 points, host the Czech Republic, who have no chance of qualifying. Denmark host Malta obviously needing a win, and the same goes for Armenia, who need to win in Italy.
Group C – Another group with nothing left to play for. Germany will finish first, getting to play in Sweden in what is pretty much a friendly now, as the Swedes are going to finish second. Ireland hosting Kazakhstan and Austria playing in the Faroe Islands holds no significance.
Group D – A complicated group beneath first place, belonging to the Netherlands, proving in the previous match (8-1 against Hungary) that they mean business, even if they have no stake in what’s left to play. They are playing in Turkey, who are second in the group, but don’t have the best of records among second place teams and need the points, while Romania, tied with Turkey for 16 points host Estonia. Hungary still have a shot as they play Andorra, but they need both Romania and Turkey to lose.
Group E – With Switzerland already qualifying, it’s down to Iceland (second with 16 points) and Slovenia (third with 15 points) to battle for second place. Slovenia have to play in Switzerland while Iceland make the short travel to Norway while Albania visit Cyprus.
Group F – Another group that’s pretty much over, as Russia are first, three points ahead of Portugal, and it’s very unlikely that it will change considering the matches they have left: Russia play against Azerbaijan in Baku while Portugal host Luxembourg. Israel and Northern Ireland finish their campaign in Ramat Gan.
Group G – It’s down to Greece (second place, 22 points, +6) and Bosnia (first place, 22 points, +23). Bosnia are playing in Lithuania, bringing over 10,000 fans with them to witness a win that will put them in the World Cup for the first time. Greece host Liechtenstein, needing Bosnia to mess up in order to finish first. Slovakia play at Latvia to wrap things up.
Group H – England lead the group with 19 points, and are hosting Poland, who are out of the running. Ukraine, with 18 points, have a guaranteed win against San Marino, but Montenegro, playing at home against Moldova, are crossing their fingers San Marino generate some sort of miracle.
Group I – Unless something unusual happens, Spain will finish first (17 points) after hosting Georgia. France are second with 14 points, playing at home against Finland, and can only go up through first if Spain lose.
South America – Argentina and Colombia have already qualified. The big battle is for the two remaining automatic qualifying spots, currently occupied by Chile and Ecuador with 25 points, while Uruguay are fifth, leading to a playoff, with 22 points. Uruguay host Argentina, which means their chances aren’t so great, while Chile hosting Ecuador means there’s a very good chance we’ll see a draw there. There’s also Colombia playing in Paraguay and Peru hosting Bolivia.
North/Central America – Reckoning day for Mexico, who have to play against Costa Rica in San Jose, needing at least a point to make sure they make the playoffs against New Zealand, while a win and a Honduras loss will put them in third place and on a plane to Brazil. Honduras travel to Jamaica, needing only a point to clinch their World Cup spot, while Panama, who need to win and hope for Mexico to lose in order to finish fourth, host the already qualified United States.
Africa – The fifth of the playoff matches takes place in Egypt, as Ghana, who have been trying to move to match to a different country due to security concerns, play in the first leg.